Not many defensive midfielders can boast that they scored a goal in a win over Barcelona, but Mauricio Pochettino didn’t bring Victor Wanyama to White Hart Lane for his goal-scoring prowess – although, nodding in the winner on his home debut wasn’t a bad way to introduce himself to the Tottenham faithful.
Eric Dier performed admirably in the holding midfield role, as Spurs fell just short in their title challenge last season. However, Pochettino needed some cover, a bit more bite, aggression and experience in central midfield. So he went fishing at his old club Southampton and reeled in Victor Wanyama.
Since making the move down to the south coast from Scottish champion’s Celtic, the Kenyan captain had proved himself to be one of the best defensive midfielders in the division.He is an incredibly imposing figure in the heart of any midfield. He covers ground so easily and has the power to match any player in the world. On the ball, he is neat, tidy and economic, just what you need from your midfield anchor-man.
His arrival at Tottenham offers Pochettino a lot of flexibility; in big away games, he can play both Dier and Wanyama in deep-lying midfield roles. If he wants to be more expansive, Moussa Dembele can partner Wanyama, with Dier reverting back to a more natural, defensive position.Or, if he wants to go all-out attack, Wanyama has the presence, intelligence and physicality to protect the middle of the park from counter-attacks, all on his own.
In Tottenham’s 1-1 draw at Arsenal last weekend, Pochettino employed a back-three, with Wanyama providing the perfect protection. The tactic worked brilliantly; Arsenal’s creative players couldn’t exert their usual authority on the game and make-shift striker Alexis Sanchez hardly had a sniff at goal. If it wasn’t for the unfortunate own-goal scored by Kevin Wimmer, Spurs could have come away from the Emirates with all three points.
Pochettino has transformed Spurs into one of the most disciplined and structured defensive sides in Europe. Both last season and so far this season, Tottenham have developed a habit of 1-0 wins. 1-0 wins are perfect. Consistently winning 1-0, historically, is the kind of form potential champion’s put together.
If players like Victor Wanyama can continue to impress, then there’s no reason why Tottenham can’t be crowned Premier League Champions, come the 21 st of May – and maybe Wanyama could become the first Kenyan ever to be crowned African Player of the Year.
Read more about Spurs’ 1-0 habit here.
Read more about Victor Wanyama’s season so far here.